What Makes an Applicant Competitive?

The Student U.S. Fulbright Program is a nationally prestigious scholarship – one for which UMBC applicants are competitive. Applicants should keep in mind the following issues as they consider their applications.

Interest in Cultural Exchange. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Fulbright is the U.S. government’s flagship international exchange program and is supported by the people of the United States and partner countries around the world.  Successful applicants for the Fulbright program are enthusiastic about the prospect of participating in an intensive, year-long cross-cultural exchange.

Solid Academic Record. There is no GPA requirement for any of the Fulbright programs. Successful awardees, in general, have solid academic records at UMBC and at transfer institutions. However, do not let a challenging semester at UMBC prevent you from applying for an award. Fulbright recognizes that life happens while you are attending university – illnesses, work commitments, early academic challenges – and take those challenges into account in the evaluation process.

Past International/Cross-Cultural Experience. With its mission to promote cultural exchange, Fulbright appreciates applicants who have had either international experiences – research abroad, study overseas, or international volunteer experiences – or cross-cultural experiences within the U.S. context.

Demonstrated Involvement and Leadership. Fulbright appreciates applicants who show a variety of activities in addition to attending classes. Showing you are an active and engaged learner demonstrates your interest in taking the next steps to be an active campus citizen. Participating in volunteer opportunities, service-learning activities, affiliation with local faith-based activities, tutoring and teaching, student leadership, and other activities make you a competitive applicant.

Language Skills. Depending on where you decide to apply and what your project is, you may need to have language skills. Fulbright asks that applicants have language skills that are commensurate with the requirements of your project. If you plan to do interview studies or original document analysis in a language other than English, you will likely need advanced levels of a local language. STEM projects, however, frequently can be conducted in English.

A Smart Choice of Program. Because the requirements of each Fulbright ETA, research or MA/MS program are so different, choosing the program for which you are best qualified may seem daunting. Scheduling an appointment with the Fulbright Program Advisor can help make this process easier.